Facebook and Twitter have revealed the full reach of Russia-linked political posts during and after the US presidential election.
Facebook said that as many as 126 million Americans – around a half of the US population of voting age – may have seen around 80,000 posts that were published by operatives based in Russia.
Facebook’s lawyer Colin Stretch said the posts were a tiny fraction of the social media website’s content – around one in every 23,000 posts.
The material was posted by Russia’s Internet Research Agency between June 2015 and August 2017.
Mr Stretch said: “These actions run counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything we stand for. And we are determined to do everything we can to address this new threat.”
Twitter revealed it found 2,752 accounts linked to the same Russian agency, many more than the 201 it initially reported in September.
There were also 1.4 million automated tweets about the election – around 0.74% of all election tweets.
Google said it had found $4,700 (£3,555) in Russia-linked ad spending during the time frame of the US election.
The information was disclosed by the internet giants to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of three hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Representatives of all three firms will face questions and detail Russia’s impact on the popular sites when they appear before three congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US election – claims Moscow has denied.
Twitter has suspended the accounts it found and passed on the details to congressional investigators.
In its written testimony, the company reportedly said: “State-sanctioned manipulation of elections by sophisticated foreign actors is a new challenge for us – and one that we are determined to meet.”
The disclosures come as two former aides to Donald Trump are placed under house arrest following a sharp escalation in the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference during the election.
The President’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and his longtime business associate Rick Gates, have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiring against the United States, money laundering and of being an unregistered agent of a foreign country.
In addition, George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Mr Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Kremlin-related contacts.
Source: Sky News World
Full Story: Russia-backed Facebook content reached 126m